Teachers union warns state budget plan forces layoffs, tax hikes

ALBANY — The governor’s proposed education budget would force districts to cut additional staff and programs or raise property taxes after reducing their staffs by about 5,000 people this school year, a teachers union said Tuesday.

“The executive budget leaves school districts in the unenviable position of either proposing double-digit property-tax increases or eliminating the programs and teachers that New York’s children need,” Andrew Pallotta, executive vice president of New York State United Teachers, told lawmakers at a hearing on the education budget.

Gov. David Paterson has proposed reducing school aid by $1.1 billion, to $20.5 billion.

Poughkeepsie City School District Superintendent Laval Wilson said it was too early to determine the impact Paterson’s proposal would have on staff and programs in his district, but he said cuts likely would have to be made. Wilson said Paterson’s proposed reductions, which would leave the district $2.2 million short, combined with an estimated $5 million increase from salary, insurance and pension costs, would leave the school district in a bind.

“We need to figure out how we are going to bridge that,” Wilson said. “We need to find a way to make millions of dollars in reductions.”

Frank Pepe, the Arlington Central School District superintendent, said his district would have to make up a shortfall of more than $4 million if Paterson’s proposal passes.

“We’ve got our work to do,” Pepe said. “We’re hoping the Legislature is going to work as hard as we are and takes some steps to help us preserve our programs for students and try to keep our teachers employed.”

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal

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